How reputational attacks harm journalists, undermine press freedom

More than 60 per cent of journalists surveyed as part of a new research project reported at least monthly attacks on their personal reputations.

The Global Reporting Centre and the Committee to Protect Journalists conducted the survey to investigate the effects of disinformation and harassment targeting journalists.

Initial details from the study were released to mark May 3, World Press Freedom Day, and full details of the report were made available this week.

A “reputational attack” is defined in the report as “public messages intended to discredit, delegitimise, or dehumanise journalists. They often take the form of false or misleading accusations, like claims of corruption or incompetence.”

Some of the attacks consist of one-off social media messages, while others are “coordinated smear campaigns,” the report said.

Research for the project was primarily conducted in 2022 and early 2023.


Details of the report show at least 63 per cent of journalists surveyed reported at least monthly attacks on their individual reputations — and 19 per cent reported facing attacks daily. These journalists reported higher rates of attacks on the reputations of their media outlets (75 per cent) and the broader news media sector (90 per cent).

The most common sources

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